What is the most important rule of flying?

Its very simple. There are a lot of things to remember in aviation and sometimes the important stuff can become obfuscated in the quagmire that we call learning material. I commonly ask my friends and acquaintances in aviation what the most important thing in flying is and everybody seems to give me a long complicated answer. After reading many thousands of crash reports, the number one rule that I came up with and that I preach to my students is this: DON’T RUN INTO SH*T! Its just that simple. I learned in the marine corps to break everything down to the simplest level possible. This would have saved many pilots lives if they had this handy piece of advice before hand…  Have fun up there!

How to do better landings

Hello All! If theres one thing that leads me to believe that a student has reached a level of competence sufficient for me to take my hands away from the controls, its the fact that they are holding on to the controls softly and making minimal control inputs. With out fail, 100% of the time, if a student is holding on to the controls softly and making small movements, they are going to have a nice soft landing even if its gusting to 25 knots at a 45 degree angle to the runway!! Most of my training involves getting students to do just this. Yeah, theres a lot more to landings but for the sake of letting this simple tidbit sink in to your head, I’m just going to terminate this blog post right here. Have fun up there!!

Does atp flight schools help me get to the airlines sooner?

I’m asked all the time about atp flight schools and their programs that they offer, most of the inquiries involve whether or not getting my commercial pilots license through atp will help me get hired at the airlines. The answer is yes and no. First off, atp can help you get to the airlines faster due to the fact that most all of your flight time will be in their twin engine aircraft and that “twin time” is what the airlines are mostly looking for when hiring new applicants. The down side to that is that obtaining all of your licenses and ratings in a twin is very expensive, the average cost of their program is around 85k and that does NOT include your private pilots license. So add about another 8-10k to that last number and thats what your cost to get your commercial license will be through them. The “no” answer from above comes from the fact that you will still have to undergo simulator evaluations and other types of testing that atp might not be able to prepare you for as well or equal to any other accelerated flight school or flight training organization. These other flight schools that you may attend that might only cost around 40k to get your licenses and ratings and includes your multi engine add on as well. This is usually the way that most aspiring commercial pilots get their licenses and ratings and once they finish their instructing jobs at the school, they go on to work for a company whom will hire them to build up their twin time for a year or two. After that year or two, they will have as much twin time as they need to get to the airlines and just because a student attended atp it does not mean that they will be immune from having to work the same job building more twin time than the student who attended the lower priced flight school. And just to recap, you will pay A LOT of money to attend atp where you will have around 200 hours of twin time whereas you will accumulate around roughly 200 hours of twin time at your next flying job in about 2-3 months. To break this down even more- you will pay roughly 45 grand to shave off 2 months of   flying at your next job. That might be ok IF you can get them to pay you $22,500 a month but that is highly unlikely.

But does attending atp help me get hired at the airlines (ie does atp give me more credibility)? Im afraid not. I have nothing personally against atp, I think they are a great school. They just aren’t the most economical option for becoming a pilot…

All about turbulence

This post is to educate pilots as well as the general flying public (airline passengers) about what turbulence is and why it keeps shaking the airplane so much. First off, I would like to dispell some myths as to what turbulence is NOT. You will hear some people try to explain that it is just pockets of dead air that the airplane keeps hitting. This is false as there is no such thing as dead air. They use this reasoning to explain why a plane would just drop a thousand feet in a matter of seconds and this is usually coming from somebody sitting in aisle ten with no altimeter in front of him. I have been flying for many years and have many thousands of hours of flight time, I can assure you that the thousand foot drop that the guy in aisle ten felt was probably only less than 50 feet at most and was regained within 3 seconds of the deviation. No cause for alarm…  The winds aloft at your cruising altitude can be up to 200 mph in some cases and as long as those winds are all blowing in the same general direction, you won’t feel a thing. What air turbulence IS is just slight changes in wind direction that the airplane reacts to to stabilize itself in flight. Thats right, what you feel when the aircraft shakes and rolls in the air is the airplane actually stabilizing itself into the wind. If you’re flying along and the airplane encounters a change in wind direction from the right, the airplane will momentarily point its nose to the right to keep itself pointed into the wind. The reason for this is because airplanes are inherently built to be stable while in flight, just like an arrow will always fly arrowhead first, tail last. This is a good thing for airplanes because this ensures the nose is always pointed into the oncoming wind (relative wind in pilot speak) and makes sure that the wings and other flight surfaces have the wind speed and direction that they need to function properly. People become unnerved when they feel turbulence because they feel as the plane is going to become uncontrollable due to the wings rocking and the nose pitching. In all actuality since the airplane is always pointing its nose into the relative wind in response to the changes in wind direction, the exact opposite is occurring! Thats right, the airplane is actually more stable due to turbulence! You may falsely believe that the pilots are up front fighting the controls to keep the airplane stabilized but the truth of the matter is the that no control inputs are required at all due to the fact that the airplane does it for them naturally. Its the exact opposite of when you are struggling to keep your car on the road in windy conditions. Keep in mind that the number of aircraft crashes due to turbulence is zero, zilch, nada. And also remember that when you see those wings start to flex in turbulent conditions, you may see them stretch a foot max in each direction. Those very same wings are designed to go about 20 feet in each direction before structural failure occurs!! You may feel up to 1.5Gs in your seat in bad weather but your airplane is also built to withstand up to 9Gs before structural failure occurs there as well. So to recap, turbulence is your friend and is completely harmless. Enjoy your flight and have fun up there!!